Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who are you to judge?

Paraptoma: A side-slip (lapse or deviation), (unintentional) error or (willful) transgression; ---fall, fault, offense, sin, trespass. 

     That is how just one Greek word for SIN is defined in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.  Paraptoma possesses a rather involved and highly scrutinized definition within the immediate Christian community amongst an extensive list of many other Greek words which are similarly used to define of one Christianities hugely debated subjects of much controversy.  This three-letter word and its definition has evoked a sense of discontentment and endless controversy across the religious board with various denominations in the Christian whole in, not only, the Christian community but also in opposing circles around the world.  While there are other creative and just as important definitions that have managed to permeate the halls of Christiandom, this one simple word and its closed-for-debate definition will be the topic of this post for the next...well, however long is takes to establish my point.
     Although part (well, most actually) of me says "No, don't do this you know better", referring to actually compromising my long-standing view of not involving politics with religion, my conscience says "speak your mind".  It is important to point out that I have had this topic pressing on my spirit for some time now and so I err on the side of caution as I unwind years of an issue that, to say the least, has been quite influential in my recent life of being a full-fledged Christian.  While I have maintained courtesy to both the Christian community and opposing side up until now with most of my posted content, I warn the reader with absolute integrity, read with caution and thick skin!  I will establish for the sake of apologetics (I am not an apologist, yet at least) that I am a God-fearing Christian who believes to this day in the infallibility of the Bible, as written and compiled in its originality and by the original and universally accepted authors.  I also currently do not hold any affiliation with any specific denomination (another topic to be covered in upcoming post) or doctrine and I avoid dogmatic inspired views [this is outside expected interaction with others in the Christian community of course].  I am happy and content to simply love my God and I am firm in my belief that He is active in my life and reveals His presence with miracles and the working of the Holy Spirit.  I am undergoing a major life development in my personal theology and while going to school full-time to conquer my Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry through Mid-American Christian University, I have already begun learning so much more, which I am confident is contributing to the development of this personal theology. 
     So, to get right to the point, that is my style-extremely and sometimes overly blunt [what can I say, I don't want to waste any more of my life], I am discussing my take (not to be confused with your take) on the current state of affairs in the Church in regards to hypocrisy!  I need to first lay the ground work for my opinions.  1) I do believe in unity as God desires this in His children [biblical and personal choice] 2) I do appreciate constructive criticism if the intent is for the exhortation not degradation of another Christian [biblical and personal choice] 3) I do firmly believe in strength in numbers especially when spreading the Gospel  4) I do believe in corporate worship if the worship is beneficial to all members of the body as a whole [biblical and personal choice]  5) I do desire love, kindness, integrity, faith, and mercy from other Christians and I constantly and uncompromisingly offer the same in everything I stand for as a Christian (although I fall short at times but always get back up) [personal choice] and  6) I absolutely consider the Bible the ultimate authority in my personal life as a Christian individual [personal choice].  Now, with all of this being said, I will responsibly assume that the reader is also a human being and believes in the ability and obvious propensity for all human beings, non-believer and believer alike, to not only make mistakes but also fail in our perpetual quest to reach that utopia state of spiritual perfection.  So, again I urge you, "reader beware!" and take what I am about to say with a grain of salt
     While I am being reader specific to fellow believers, I personally believe that if we are unable to cooperatively function as a body of believers and cannot avoid criticism of other Christians or fail to arbitrate or find common ground amongst our own Christian circles and community, we have also failed the single most important mission of all...reaching out to other people to spread the Gospel.  Please understand I hold a personal belief in spreading the Gospel proactively but also very non-confrontational and absolutely non-abrasive manner.  You cannot force the Gospel on anyone as this was not the intent in the first place.  Too quickly we forget that it was choice that we possess collectively as the human race, which distinctly sets us apart from all other creation and choice that played a part in our salvation [it should be understood I personally acknowledge only the grace of God through Jesus Christ makes salvation possible].  And far too often we believers think that we have reached a certain "level" that is superior to all others or as we often refer to, "the sinners" and this only turns non-believers off even more to God.  You see, we are walking, talking, breathing representations of what it should be like to be a Christian so our whole being is surrounded by scrutiny.  We live in, not just a glass house, but a world surrounded by glass.  True, God does not need selling [Jesus said He will draw the world to Him] but if those looking at Christiandom through their curious eyes observe a false image or an obvious breech of integrity in our character revealed through our behavior or by our words, then we have failed being Christ-like.  In itself this is just another sin or lapse by the individual human but to a world with an interest in trying the Christian lifestyle, this has a much larger negative effect.  The damage to our own persona is can be remedied with repentance and a humble heart but the detriment to our identity as a Christian, even more as a mentor to others interested in giving our "lifestyle" a try is sometimes permanently and irreversibly scarred.  This makes me stop right here and thank God for His saving grace which supersedes all human standards and consequences.  God is not a man that He is in any way regulated or conformed to our simple and quite worthless [when compared to Him] standards or mere rules.  On the flip-side, our identity or individuality with other people is measured according to these standards and so, in a way, we need to be conscious of our "performance" as examples to the world.
     To lapse or deviate from being a Christian could mean to compromise your entire belief system [wow, pretty shocking when said like this huh?] or to simply turn aside or "veer" from the straight and narrow for a split second while still maintaining your standing as a Christian.  So you slipped up with a very slight or very noticeable margin of error.  But you compromised your conscience whether for a split-second or spacial day.  So does this automatically condemn you to eternal death (I use you for emotional emphasis) or just corroborate your oh so humanness?  Are we forever branded a failure within the Christian community or just a weak believer?  Or, do we simply nod, admit foul, then move on like nothing happened at all with complete discretion on the part of the offender?  I already know how I feel about this issue [that is after all the reason for this post] but I want to know what the general consensus is.  How do you view sin?  What do you consider mistake, dangerous move, and absolutely death deserving?  Now, I refuse to answer my own question here [I say here because I am a habitual self-conversant] so I will move on to my main point.
     I have observed a nasty trend within the Christian community as a whole [I don't want to limit this fault to the Church because it is not just the Church].  Too often, we [I am using we because I have only recently begun to distance myself from the role of offender] are so eager to point out each other in situations where the blame game begins and fault finding seems all to comfortable.  But why?  I mean, as a human being [we are only human] we are prone to follow predisposures to certain unpleasantness but as Christians, we are morally obligated to follow Christ-like procedures and divinely orchestrated rules.  Christiandom demands 24/7 behavior of this caliber.  Our behavior is non-debatable and should remain a constant, perpetually movement forward without slowing down.  Christianity is not some religious "faucet" you can turn on when you desire to save face or "look good" then shut off when you need to undergo a small "indiscretion" or infraction of your untimely choice.  And, because of the glass house theory mentioned above, looking in a mirror should become relative to our lifestyle.  It should be a norm ingrained into our existence as a Christian.     
     I have not only been the contest of preying judgement consultants within the Church but I have also observed others who, either observant of their folly or unaware of their apparent state as a victim [the latter often being the case], have fallen victim to similar slandering and condemnation by the Church body.  Just as common and often as damaging are attacks from select "clicks" within the main body of the Church.  Whether from the entire community, the Church, or just a single offender, being the victim of an attack by another in any context or setting is emotionally, spiritually, and socially damaging.  Some are able to take these attacks in stride with nothing more than simple offense while others [too often the case] receive scars that last a long time, sometimes never recovering from the effects.  With justification these victims become, at the least, wary of the "system" and begin to rethink their status in Christiandom.  Can you blame them?  Are we not supposed to be mentoring and discipling each other?  Are we not held to a higher standard of tolerance and love?  Do we not lead by example and play the role of a servant-leader versus leader-servant?  The answers are quite simple, YES, YES, YES, YES!  All Christians are held to standards that are intended with every dimension of exceeding all other standards especially the worlds' standards.  When a non-believer cannot differentiate between another non-believer or believer [the questionable person is understood to be a Christian] by observing their attitude and behavior, we must then assume that this is a misrepresentation of Christiandom as a whole.  But when a Christian is spreading rumor(s) about a fellow Christian whether true or false, the slander or not slander debate does not apply.  This is a legal maneuver not a moral issue.  To deprave another brother or sister of their confidence and take anything apart from a constructive approach to every relationship with other Christians is far short of justified in any Christian arena.  It is simply unChristian!  To make a snap judgement about another brother or sister based on another's individual opinion or personal definition is a far cry from spiritually sound.
      The Holy Spirit was pretty clear when He had the inspired men write about slandering, backbiting, spreading false witness, judgement, condemning, and taking on God-ly duties that are otherwise off limits to anyone except God himself.  Jesus was extremely clear when He repetitively taught about leaving the judging up to God and condemn not lest we be condemned and those who judge will they themselves be judged.  Though the exact words and incident for cause differ the purpose and context remains constant.  We, as Christ-like children of God, are to avoid this behavior and there is nothing, absolutely no justification that makes any offending behavior in this neighborhood even remotely OK.  If you are one of those legalistic, controlling [control carries a demonic tone in meaning] types then using God's message [intended to save and show us how to live] for your own personal crusade is nothing new.  However, and take this little piece literally, using the Word of the Most High God as a foundation for your own preconceived ideologies that differ even slightly from the intended purpose carries its own special penalties to be executed by God at His discretion.  I plead with others who may have done this [as I am guilty of doing] to rethink your effect not only on the victim of your smear campaign [whether intended to harm or simply playing ignorant] but also on Christiandom as a collective whole.  It will always fail.  God gave us His Word as a standard by which we maintain our identity as Christians and realize our own indiscretions and shortcomings as believers, not to leverage others to accomplish our own human desires and evil schemes.  God allowed us another chance at salvation through His Son, the precious Lamb, the Jesus Christ our Lord.  We call ourselves Christian because we love those who don't love us, we don't follow who or what others follow, and we always benchmark our success here on earth off of the future glory there in the New Kingdom.  We love because God first loved us, not wait and see if someone deserves our love based off of their actions.  We cannot just assign another person "probation" according to our own personal standards because they will fail every time and that attitude is judgement in itself.  That is precisely why we have a universal standard [compliments of Heaven] who never deviates or lapses or is in error (Jesus Christ).  It is important to remember that "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".
     So next time you hear a negative word about someone else or are told something about someone else, don't adopt the majority opinion about that person, don't pass that information along, and do not attempt to converse with another thinking your care to properly investigate the matter justifies your involvement because it doesn't.  Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor-Ten Commandments.  One important and priceless lifetime lesson I learned as a Police Investigator was that you NEVER know the entire truth until you know everything and until you have had a chance to investigate everything involved [and you will never get that luxury in a Christian setting] you will never get the whole story.  So, take it from me who has ruined some relationships of my own, don't travel the same path because it leads to heartbreaks and soul aches.  Too many people would still be friends and still be together if others would have just minded their own affairs.  From a biblical standpoint and personal creed, live and let live and even more, let God be God and you just be you.  Stop building expectations for everyone else and only be concerned about you.  Love covers a multitude of sins and much more than that.  Leave the rumors where they belong and the judgement to the JUDGE.  If you want to know the true definition of SIN, look in a mirror...It humbled me! Amen.